Sabbath Disciplines: Our March Chapel GatheringsBy Gerald Longjohn on April 11, 2018
Recently my wife and I stopped by Cornerstone University's campus for a few minutes on a Saturday afternoon. Our Campus Ministries team was hosting a "Sabbath Day." That meant that the Corum Student Union had been transformed with various stations to provide rest and refreshment in the midst of a busy semester. Blanket forts, craft stations, video game tournaments, a smoothie and coffee bar, a prayer room and more were set up to serve our community. Groups of students visited nearby Calvary Church to enjoy their beautiful prayer garden. Others journeyed a few miles north for a brisk spring hike at Provin Trails park. The entire day and the restful options available formed a powerful picture of the delight that can accompany an intentional discipline.
The day was reinforced by the past two weeks of chapel programming, which continued our spring semester focus on integrity and humility.
Two of our speakers, CU President Dr. Joe Stowell and Ed Stetzer, director of Wheaton College's Billy Graham Center, drew us to Philippians 2. Dr. Stowell reminded us that following Christ's example requires us to be others-oriented, committed to service and unflinchingly obedient. Ed Stetzer took us to the next section of Philippians 2 and Paul's calling to practices of integrity: persistent faithfulness, intentional effort and radical reliance. These cultivate Christ-like transformation and cause our integrity to stand out in a dark world.
Other speakers over the past two weeks unpacked and explained other practical ways for us to pursue these virtues.
The Discipline of Vulnerable Engagement
Local pastor, Josh Blunt (Sunshine Community Church) reminded our community that humility doesn't mean hiding meekly, disengaged from our community. Paul's example in 2 Corinthians 11 suggests that humility involves a willingness to vulnerably engage, even to the point of "boasting in our weakness" so that Christ's strength might be seen.
Our tendency is to carefully manage our own image through social media and interactions with others. Integrity, in contrast, is a willingness to consistently display God's splendor in my life.
The Discipline of Corporate Worship
During a two-day visit to campus, the Chaplain of John Brown University, Dr. Rod Reed, spoke in our chapel service to answer the question, "Why chapel?" He took us to the story of Paul and Barnabas being called to ministry during a season of worship in Acts 13.
The college context provides numerous opportunities for us to be distracted. We become consumed by questions of calling, by seasons of stress and by increasing anxiety. A rhythm of community worship allows us to turn our attention to God and His work. Gathering to worship together in chapel can grow our ability to trust in His care of our circumstances.
The Discipline of Sabbath Rest
Our discipleship intern and senior biblical studies major, Rachel Rounds, taught us that the Sabbath is a gift to be received with humility. The gift provides us a means of intentionally focusing on our relationship with our heavenly Father and results in abiding joy.
Rather than being approached with drudgery as a legalistic ritual, the Sabbath was meant to free us to rest and to delight in God's good gifts. Choosing to set aside our own striving can foster humility—a reminder of our dependence on God for all things.
While my Sabbath rest over the weekend didn't involve a blanket fort or a round of Mario Kart, it was infused with a renewed sense of gratitude for all that I'm learning at Cornerstone.
There are countless reasons to love serving in the university context, but near the top of the list has to be the way that my faith is sharpened, stretched and put into practice by this campus. To not only hear solid biblical teaching from a variety of gifted speakers, but to practice these disciplines in a diverse, spiritually passionate community is a gift.